by: Aaron George Bailey
Sherwood, Arkansas  USA
October 4, 2007
I've posted this article to stimulate thought on this subject and to help answer my questions about it.  With
Laika already dead, the distinctive beep of the Sputnik 2 beacon slowly mutated, or abruptly changed,  into
a pulsating sound which mimicked a
heartbeat.  A number of Western experts from government and
amateur listening stations claimed  this was a heartbeat and reasoned, wrongly as we know now, that Laika
was still alive several days into the flight.  Old phonograph records and printed news material from 1957
make reference to the heartbeat sounds from Sputnik 2 and the myth survives till this day on the WWW.  
a news release on November 7th the Soviets state that "Laika is alive on the 54th orbit- (see article).  The
Soviets must have known that Laika was dead at this point in time.  If so, they kept it secret and they must
have had a good chuckle about the Western experts being fooled by the heartbeat sound.  On November
7th, the heartbeat sound was ticking away on 20 megacycles, did they choose to lie about Laika still being
alive in order to make the mission look more successful?  The mutated beeping sound is interesting and
to my knowledge this effect didn't happen with Sputnik 1 (see below- "Sputnik Analysis") which was
carrying the same type of transmitter that was now being used on Sputnik 2.  Actually, Sputnik 2 was using
the Sputnik 1 backup sphere.  This strange ongoing heartbeat sound, whether by accident or design,
actually chimed in with Soviet propaganda about Sputnik 2, making it appear successful when in reality the
biological experiment was  cut short and flawed, a measured success at best.  So what could have caused
the heartbeat sound?  We now know that Sputnik 2 temperature went high early on, killing Laika from heat
(2)  We also know the battery was on a discharge curve and was depleted by the seventh day when
radio transmissions ceased.  So was the HF  beacon affected by high temperature and/or low battery
voltage, well possibly?  But I would like to expand on the causes and put forth the following theory.  What
if the altered beacon was signaling, "Laika is dead?"  A kind of secret code signal in the form of a
heartbeat sound that the Soviets, purposely, designed into Sputnik 2.  Could it be that Sputnik 2's HF
beacon was wired to one of Laika's vitals?  For example, if Laika's heartbeat stopped, it would switch the
HF beacon to the altered form which sounded like a heartbeat.  If true, how crafty of the Russians.  This is
pure speculation on my part.  Technically this would be easy to do.  A DEATH BEACON FROM THE DAWN OF
THE SPACE AGE  isn't so far fetched even though I don't have hard supporting evidence for this.  The
OBJECTIVE of the Sputnik 2 experiment was to determine how long a biological test subject could survive
in weightlessness.  The effect of prolonged zero G on a living organism was unknown and data was
needed to determine if manned spaceflight was even possible.  Was there a physiological barrier which
would make manned spaceflight impossible?  This was a major question at the dawn of the Space Age.  
Remember, in 1957 the Soviets didn't have a global  network of tracking stations.  Obviously, survival time
of the test subject was  important data and some form of conveyance was needed.  Sputnik 2s HF
(short-wave) radio beacon, given favorable conditions, could be heard over thousands of miles at a time
when the VHF TRAL-D telemetry was either timed OFF to conserve battery power or out of range because
its VHF radio signal was line-of-sight limited.  The HF radio link could have transmitted a precise time of
death when it switched the 20MHz  (beeping) beacon to the heartbeat sound.  We also know the Soviets
used DECEPTION.   For example, they gave News Agencies false coordinates for the launch site of Sputnik
(4E)  So isn't it also possible they wanted the DEATH BEACON to mimic a heartbeat sound for the
purpose of confusing Western observers.  They certainly didn't want the US to benefit from their research
so why not create misinformation?  The DEATH BEACON theory fits the objective of the experiment and it
fits the Cold War climate of secrecy and deception.  Once again, if true, how clever of the Soviets.  And
what if the Soviets didn't design the death beacon into Sputnik 2?  But they too, were actually surprised
when they tuned in the heartbeat sound from Sputnik 2.   Only,,,, they chose to play it up, "Laika is still alive
on the 54th orbit."  They knew Western observers were confused by the heartbeat sound and they decided
to take advantage of this for propaganda purposes and all the time knowing that Laika was already dead?  
In other words, they perpetuated misinformation and misunderstanding, by not revealing the truth in a
timely way and made Sputnik 2 appear more successful than it was.  This would have been slick
propaganda.  Of coarse, the radical change in the beacon could simply be related to natural decay of the
signal due to low battery, or high temperature or possibly an electronics failure caused the change.  The
reason for the radically different beacon, and how it related to Soviet propaganda, is intriguing to think
about.  I put forth these speculations as an open question and I welcome feedback on this subject.  
Perhaps, more data points,  recorded over the seven day lifetime of the transmitter, would help solve the
puzzle.  Additional samples of the signal could reveal ,either, a slow transition to the heartbeat sound, OR,
an abrupt change to the heartbeat.  The three data points we now have lean toward an abrupt change but
this is not enough information to confirm my theory.  

Aaron George Bailey ----- contact me at email-
Sherwood, ARkansas  USA 72120
Soviet Space History Enthusiast
Aviation and Space Enthusiast
Radio / Electronics Enthusiast - SWL -
Ham operator - WA5HRC - QRP CW
and Dog Lover - See my dog Chipper


The FIRST reporting of Sputnik 2 in the New York Times describes the 20.005 megacycle radio signal as
having a beep rate of "3 per second", as monitored from Japan.
(7)  This sounds like the signal received by
the East German Bochum Observatory and  indicates that it too was recorded soon after launch.  
provides radio observations on days three and four and he refers to the signal as, "the heartbeat
of Laika."  It is interesting that the beacon does not show any change over this two day period as if the
beacon was being held in the altered state by some on board condition.

#1- SPUTNIK-2 BEACON SOON AFTER LAUNCH - received by Bochum Observatory in East Germany

#2- SPUTNIK-2 BEACON- the heartbeat sound received on day THREE -Nov. 6th - by Dr. Benham

#3- SPUTNIK-2 BEACON- the heartbeat sound received on day FOUR -Nov. 7th -  by Dr. Benham
* NOTE: At best we can only speculate about what went wrong on Sputnik-2 ?  A heartbeat sound on the
third and forth day and in light of new thinking about Laika only surviving for 5 to 7 hours,
(2) something
doesn't add up.  After an email exchange with famous Space Historian Sven Grahn, I began to think of the
Sputnik 2 signal, not as a heartbeat but as the natural decay of the signal, perhaps due to low battery
voltage or high temperature.  Mr Grahn has a very fine web page, especially related to Soviet Space.  
link- Sven's Space Place.  My personal feelings are not to dismiss the DEATH BEACON theory completely.
Perhaps new information will surface on the issue.  Feedback on this subject is welcome, what do you
SPECIAL NOTE - Let it be known, the URL links and references herein might not necessarily embrace my
point of view or agree with the historical accuracy or speculative nature of my work, which they certainly
have the right to do.

Note- ABOVE- Listen to the changes in the sputnik-2 signal and then go to the link Sputnik Analysis (click
on "Mercury & Gemini" and then "Sputnik Analysis") to hear how the Sputnik-1 signal changed over time,
keeping in mind that Sputniks 1 and 2 used the same type of radio transmitter.
ABOVE- Sputnik-2 artwork, showing telemetry return through the sputnik sphere, from a 1958 Russian space book by professor
B.A.Voronzov-  Veliaminov.  Book Title- "Proiskhojdenia Nebesnikh Tel" Published by- Ministry of the Defence of the USSR